Disipating embers can rekindle a fire

Bird Droppings February 27, 2011
Dissipating embers can rekindle a fire

Most mornings weather permitting I will sit out and spend a few moments meditating in the corner of our back yard currently over grown with local plant life and in bad need of a mowing. For several years I have used a bit of white sage and sweet grass in a bowl as incense. The aroma and watching embers glow in the darkness can be very relaxing. Today I was watching as the last of the embers held on to its red glow dissipating as a slow column of smoke wisped off the last of the ember circling about in the stillness.
My mind was wandering to car repairs, needing more dirt for my herb garden, helping with and finishing papers, writing an IEP and heading to school later this morning. Just as the sun was about to rise I looked up circling over my head traces of clouds creating a master piece of stars and clouds move much faster than most times. There is something about the early morning perhaps the newness and silence. As I thought fanning the last spark from the one small piece of sage leave an ember jumped from my bowl and landed on my arm for a second I watched till the burning sensation had to be dealt with. A streak of orange was appearing across the eastern sky and I went into o get my camera.

“There are things you cannot say in words — feelings you have, heights and depths you cannot articulate — and the only way they can come out is through your art form. It may not be direct — usually it is not. But what happens is that as you create, this emotion pushes through from some deep place and informs the way you see, feel, choose, and express. What was an unutterable emotion changes into an emotional charge that runs through your heart and mind and into your work. It is a magical thing, and you must embrace it as one of the true gifts of the difficult and sometimes lonely creative life.” Kent Nerburn, email to his son

I started thinking about parallels in life working with teenagers and teenage relationships and it is much akin to watching embers as they are dissipating. Each day a student will be complaining about a boyfriend or girlfriend and then right back. The embers are strong and a bit of air and bright again glowing. For some this is enough to carry on into adult hood and serious relationships for others fuel is needed some would call it substance and eventually those folks look for something more meaningful than just an ember glowing. Occasionally an ember jumps out and burns us. Some wanting to maintain will allow that ember to sit and smolder burning on their skin not wanting to lose the glow for fear of never being able to relight the fire.
As I found this morning when my super duper gas lighter starter was empty from too many starts of charcoal and candles. Amazingly in this world of technology an old kitchen match works just great and there is always another source of fire to rekindle. Briefly we will wander stumbling in the dark looking and some will sit pining waiting for light to come on. We exist in a world of paradox or flux there is always light for every darkness. Perhaps philosophically and theologically we could argue but experience will also show it will get light and while darkness may seem like a long time but it will get light eventually.
So I remind myself every morning going out before the light to sit and enjoy the stillness and sensations of early morning. The silence and calm provide a peaceful start to the day.

“In the midst of sorrow, sickness, and death, or misfortune of any kind and in the presence of the notable and great silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota.” Standing Bear, Ogallala Lakota

Many the moment I sat listening to a CD of Carlos Nakai, wooden flute master. As I sit today thinking and pondering listening to the melodies and sounds reading words of wisdom of days gone by. Writing words often only for one person to read even if it is myself. As today unsure of whom that person is I am writing for, trying to convey a moment of silence of peace in a world jumbled and riddled with so much turbulence. I have focused most of the weekend on my own undertakings reading writing for my graduate work and my herb gardens. When I walk in the doors of our school that changes I am now paid to deal with others issues and education. The strength of my morning of my few moments sitting in silence watching the embers dissipate will sustain me through the day and perhaps offer to another a few words of comfort and perhaps a few moments of silence. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

A series of paradoxes and bewilderments

Bird Droppings February 25, 2011
A series of paradoxes and bewilderment

I received the following in an email yesterday, a friend of mine sent it out and as I read the first time it was humorous. However as I pondered then as a teacher I read deeper into what was being said. I listened by coincidence to a few words from a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. I recalled about three years ago early in the morning as I by chance I hit the AM button in my car. It was obviously a very conservative talk show and on the extreme conservative side. But the comment was “If a Democratic Congress gets in they will spend the first two years investigating the last two years of the current administration and then raise taxes and…”, and he went on. It interested me that is he saying something has been done wrong that needs investigating and now in a reverse situation Republicans are about to do the same. The news stories daily seem to imply that or are they just trying to stir up conservatives to get out and protect their money. Anyhow my email forward from a friend:

“Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s: Teaching Math in 1950’s – a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1960’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1970’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Teaching Math in 1980’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20. Teaching Math In 1990’s a logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.) Teaching Math in 2005-6 un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100. El costo de la producción es $80”

As I read this I wondered if this is really what the general public thinks. There are numerous books out on the dummying down of America. No one ever mentions we are one of the few countries with free public education to all children regardless of race, sex, disability and or income and in turn the only one trying to hold accountable educational systems for getting everyone to the same level. Each of the eras above has issues in its systems. However let me add I took a general biology course in my second year of college and the current general biology text for ninth graders at our high school is significantly more in depth and has numerous subjects and information not even conceived of in 1968. So I look at the above email and see 1950 all was well, 1960 we are concerned about fractions, 1970 we are concerned about semantics, 1980 we are now worried about correct underlining too much Christmas treeing of answers on standardized tests and in the 1990’s we are concerned about environment and each other and asking why and how come questioning and wanting to perceive how this as wrong. I was amused at math in 2000’s and how it was touchy feely sort of kind of thing. They left out math in 2010 where a forester pays poachers in the rain forest of South America to strip a piece of land unregulated by an laws and sell to him at a dirt cheap price and then wander off so literally we have a near 100% profit.
In 1919 John Dewey was using reflection as a teaching tool very successfully he was considerably ahead of his time. Sadly reflection and discussion take time away from memorizing however and with teaching to the test as we are now kids have to memorize volumes of material in every subject and many teachers do not have the time or they at least think they do not. Then looking back at 2005-2006 math comments and inferences to diversification it was not too many years ago women could not go to school and or hold positions in many companies and such. Even today woman are stereotyped into certain positions.
A good friend is writing a doctorial thesis on gender biases in administration in public schools with all the public hoopla about immigration I still recall a parent conference five years ago when a good old boy wearing scruffy shorts no socks boots untied and dirty white T-Shirt explain it so eloquently to me. It seems he was out of work as he was a construction worker and at that essentially a gofer. He would be the one toting boards and bricks whatever. I was filling in forms since he did not read or write and his son was about to end up in the alternative school. I asked what he did for a living and he informed me he couldn’t get work. Obviously I was aware of the construction situation in our area of few houses being built. However his answer took me by surprise. He commented with a few expletives “The @#$% Mexicans work too #$@% hard.” For him it could have been Afro Americans, Native Americans, Eastern Europeans, and or Hispanics, it was anyone who was actually willing to work and not like him. Did I mention he did not smell very good sort of like a few old beers and cigarette stale smoke a paradox of sorts?
And so why am I bewildered we so often complain and whine and criticize and often only because we do not understand or lack of information. Simply put it is ignorance among the so many wonderful reasons. Parents expect wonders from teachers and many times we do deliver but years ago I wrote about the sixteen hour syndrome. Teachers have kids for eight hours and are expected to work miracles only to go home to parents, TV, video, friends, drugs, and many other misc. other distraction and they have sixteen hours to undo all they learned in those eight. It is sort of a losing battle in many situations.

“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk

As I read this thought from Black Elk a Lakota Sioux holy man some years ago I was intrigued how we adults we take these innocents and make them adults losing all of their innocence. I watch the four year olds around school from our demo school they are inquisitive and wondering and yet in a few years they will be blank eyed and listless stripped of all of their joy and purity by our cultural efforts to make automatons and provide vehicles for the productivity of our manufacturing and corporate greed. Could be why I am bewildered that we have come to this in a free society and in reality are more imprisoned than many so called third world countries. Imprisoned by our self serving and self centeredness and greed and watching calmly as monopolies are forming again and the big three oil companies are the only oil companies and ma bell is soon to be in charge again. I am paraphrasing and borrowing from an old folk song, where have all the steel mills gone or where have all the textile jobs gone simple they have gone to countries ever where. Then the chorus, oh when will we ever learn, oh when will we ever learn.
Paradoxes and complexities bewilderment and wonderment, I look at Black Elks words and wonder why can we not learn from children and maybe get back some of our lost innocence. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

It has been a long time

Bird Droppings February 24, 2011
It has been a long time

I was sitting along the edge of reality somewhere in my backyard listening to the wind blow threw the pines, it seems pine trees make a better sound till the oak trees have all their leaves in place. Sort of a circular thing as the wind seemed to blow around the tops of the trees surrounding my house. The sound and movement in the air was exhilarating. It has been nearly thirty years since our oldest son was born. I was wondering as a parent and now as a new grand parent have we done all we should or could. I think parents question themselves often. I think parents always wonder did I do the best job I could have. Perhaps even thinking about what could I have done different? As I ponder I am very proud of my children all three and now a daughter in law and grand daughter. Hopefully they know what ever roads they travel in life we will be there for them if they need and I am sure they will be happy and successful.

“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” William D. Tammeus

I have been to the nurseries at the local hospitals when my wife gave birth to all three sons and when my sisters and numerous friends and now nieces and nephews all having children. A few weeks back as we sat around eating I was watching my nephew, grand daughter, grand nieces and grand nephews. Several are still babies and there were great aunts great grandmothers, grandfathers and grandmothers taking turns holding them. Great grandma was working on getting a photo of all of them together and trying to get fourteen or so little ones in a confined space for enough time to get one photo with all faces looking forward is quite an effort.

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” Joyce Maynard

I have watched my brother and sisters grow as they raised their children and now grandchildren. I have witnessed first hand my wife and I grow raising our children and now the changes taking place with a grandbaby. There are challenges and pitfalls, those moments that we will never live down. I recall a little spat between my middle son and youngest at Disney World when the middle son would while my wife was watching for our ride to Discovery Island, karate kick the youngest and he would of course holler and hit his brother who was claiming innocence to his mother. After three times I did intercede even though I had actually been video taping the whole scene watching it now it is quite humorous. It is funny even now my middle son still denies any wrong doing saying I altered the film.

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Robert Fulghum

So often I use the term setting an example, we as parents have that responsibility and we as teachers, it is a double edge sword and often there is no chance to goof off.

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” C.G. Jung, Integration of the Personality, 1939

I recall my wife coming home from the hospital many years ago when she first became a nurse. She was working in GYN-OB and had delivery and nursery in her unit. She told me one day of a thirteen year old mother whose twenty six year old mother was there and her thirty nine year old grand mother was also there. The examples we set are seen by our kids every day and then they try and emulate. Watching my granddaughter try and imitate us as we make faces or stick out our tongue is amusing and her faces as she tries and mimics. Sadly children are always watching and our behaviors beyond making faces are seen as well.

“Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.” Mignon McLaughlin

Each day as I walk down the hallways in our high school I am made aware of this with so many students pregnant and some married.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone

It was a difficult day yesterday I turned around a few hours in too quickly to answer a student and pulled a muscle in my neck. Advil has kept me but a nice relaxing hot tub would be great. So in a few weeks my oldest son turns thirty and it is hard to believe as I hold my tiny grand daughter that he was once just as small. As I finish up today so much out in the news around the world so please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Can we listen to silence?

Bird Droppings February 23, 2011
Can we listen to silence?

Sitting in my yard as the moon is slowly dwindling almost down to a half moon as spring approaches. I was listening to the silence and to what was about me. I tried to hear the minutest of sounds, the echoes of dogs and coyotes off in the distance there was little wind to move the pine boughs and the air was still. The moon though partial gone was brilliant shining effortlessly over my shoulder. Wisps of clouds floated by creating a lacework of sorts over my head never enough cloud cover to hide the moon simply to create patterns as I tried to get a photo.
Periodically I would hear the sounds of my dog clicking along the porch as she would come over to me from the house she was ready to go in. The temperature is still a bit cool for crickets and tree frogs this past night and morning. While days are warm and even sitting here in the coolness of morning it is bearable not blanket weather anymore. A few more degrees of warmth till the night time creatures begin their symphonies. I slept well last night rising early this morning so I could sit for a few minutes more in the quiet of morning I was trying to think of what to write. There is so much turmoil in the world right now literally all over the world. So I will write about the advantages of silence and solitude.

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

When I talk of getting up at three in the morning most people scoff at the idea and tell me you are crazy. But sitting listening to silence is a powerful way to start the day clearing your thoughts focusing on silence to a point you hear your heart beat or the clicking of your puppies toe nails on the concrete.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

Occasionally a thought will linger with me as I try and sort through the hows and whys and wondering if it is or isn’t maybe right maybe wrong. A student came in my room yesterday and said to call about a Pow-Wow coming up her mother is part Cherokee and is the local organizer for Native American gatherings in the area. I shared a red tailed hawk feather with her to take to her mother.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

Often I will spend my class period just sitting talking in friendly conversation. Often many the time people will come in and sit join in the conversation and ask what you are teaching. I often avoid saying anything other than whatever is needed right now. Most high school students look at me quizzically and pass it off as Mr. Bird is weird. But working with students who many times never have a civil conversation with anyone sitting and talking about anything is a lesson in humanity joining in with others and being accepting is far more a lesson than trying to read about friendship in a text or on the internet.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

Several days ago I asked a student why they came to my room and was told because you will listen. I got thinking I practice every morning before most of these students even wake up by listening to silence. Then as I sit here now maybe in the silence I can sort out the day ahead and just maybe I will be patient with those that need and be able to listen when others can not.

“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” Henry David Thoreau

Not understanding silence many would simply say there is nothing to understand about nothing. But is silence nothing when a heart is hurting or pain holds a voice silent, is there sound in a tear or a touch. Far too many of us are waiting on words and silence is a practiced lesson. Listening to silence takes patience and time and many of us are not willing to take either.

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them” Henry David Thoreau

It is learning that silence too is music and is poetry and has meaning. It is listening to the silence and grasping its significance and defining attributes, sorting through the moments and seconds when silence prevails. For me it is an early morning meditation and watching a few embers from a sage leave or two die flickering away in a moment as a wisp of smoke silently glides upward often taking a turn as it clears our hedgerow. It is time to be silent, to be alone, to listen to silence and this is a choice we each need to make when it is time and when you are prepared.

“I have never found a companion that was as companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone; let him be where he will.” Henry David Thoreau

Often on websites and blogsites you are asked who would you like to me I generally put down Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Students have asked me why and I respond I once said both men had opportunity to listen to silence. Generally the student will get a blank look and walk away another nonsensically bird dropping. So my friends peace to all and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

Hope is more than a word it is a state of being

Bird Droppings February 22, 2011
Hope is more than a word it is a state of being

“Man can live for about forty days without food, and about three days without water, about eight minutes without air … but only for one second without hope.” Hal Lindsey

It was quite nice though waking up to acid reflux is not as I walked outside to a three quarters moon and clouds moving rapidly through the sky creating a lacey veneer for the moon. I need to be a bit more careful with my fish tacos mix next time as indigestion in the middle of the night does not make for a restful sleep. I posted this quote from Hal Lindsey about one thirty this morning on facebook and already had a comment or two. I thought I was the only person in the world who was up at this kind of hour. As I look at the quote perhaps this is an exaggeration only one second without hope but as I thought about it when we lose hope so often there is nothing left to live for.

“If one truly has lost hope, one would not be on hand to say so.” Eric Bentley

We start back into school with only four weeks till another break for spring seems like we have only been in school a few days this year. It is an interesting feeling I have a great desire to get back to work and a desire to go lay back down and close my eyes for a few more hours sort of a paradox this morning. I have been spoiled being able to nap and lay back down and really no schedule for the past week other than holding my grand daughter every chance I get. But as I sit thinking and wondering today I go to an experience a few years ago that made me think about the word hope.

“To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.” Pearl S. Buck

My father was well into his eighties had been periodically having urinary infections which caused his blood sugar to drop. When he was bottoming out on his sugar he becomes very morose. As I talked with him nearly four years ago on one hand he was asking about our future, my sons, my wife and or how I was doing and on the other hand how he was near the end of his time. He was refusing to eat and would only take a few sips of orange juice my mother trying to raise his sugar levels. A call came in from the visiting nurse and the recommendation was made to give him a few teaspoons of honey. My mother went in and told him she had some medicine for him and several teaspoons of honey later his sugar levels were back and he wanted to change the channel on the TV to a John Wayne movie. I thought back to a Disney movie and song “A spoonful of sugar/honey makes the medicine go down.”

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” Lin Yutang

In a previous month’s National Geographic several excellent stories of Africa one in particular that caught my attention. The article was focusing on the pygmies trying to hold on in their forest home as encroachment was coming. Interestingly enough civil war while hard on the pygmies was keeping illegal logging out. It was too dangerous for the loggers between poison arrows and machine gun fire to cut trees. The original inhabitants of the Ituri Forest of Zaire are the Bambuti Pygmies. Several tribes lived through the forest area in Zaire and lived similar lives to what they had been for thousands of years. There were migratory, moving about following game and primarily hunters living in little more than huts built from bent branches and large leaves. The Bambuti are fearless hunters tackling even elephants with their poison arrows. In some family groups it was a right of manhood to kill an elephant. However as I read one or two paragraphs caught my attention. It was about honey. The entire tribe would stop everything when a honey tree was found. They would gorge on honey often to a point of a stupor. The season of the year also would determine the type of honey be it light, medium or dark depending on the flowers being visited by the bees. As I thought about it honey literally doesn’t spoil often staying on a shelf for years without refrigeration.

“Honey is a source of simple carbohydrates. Its composition on average is 17.1 percent water, 82.4 percent total carbohydrate and 0.5 percent proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The average carbohydrate content is mainly fructose (38.5 percent) and glucose (31percent). The remaining 12.9 percent of carbohydrates is made up of maltose, sucrose and other sugars.” National Honey Board

My simple research pointed to modern uses of looking at the antimicrobial properties of honey and uses as a wound dressing and for weightlifters as a source of quick energy. I was very thankful back a few years for a rise in blood sugar and a rekindling of hope.

“Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.” Robert Ingersoll

As I am getting all my materials ready and together to head to school and maybe I should grab a spoonful of honey who knows what the day may bring. There are many new stories and events to catch up on as I talk to students. A few more weeks of school and it will be spring break another week off again. For me it is also back to school and trying to finish up a my doctorate. It is nice being that my classes are finished sand all I have is writing my dissertation. Earlier as I went out the morning was it was still no breeze at all yet above me the clouds were zipping by. Soon new leaves will be helping to muffle neighborhood sounds and soon the crickets and frogs will be back on a regular basis and my morning choir and orchestra will be serenading me each day. A few more degrees warmer is all it needs. I watched as a wisp of smoke from some sage and sweet grass circle about with no breeze it hung in the air moving as I moved and soon wandered off into the trees. As we go into these times so many issues coming to the front almost minute by minute eventually we are responsible and it is up to us to vote and or not vote when elections arrive again.

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Christopher Reeve

I will leave with this thought there is hope and we can be the catalyst so as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Wandering about

Bird Droppings February 21, 2011
Wandering about

I have been getting my cameras ready for spring. There are so many possibilities with various flowers blooming all about and baby ducks and geese soon at local lakes and ponds. However right now I have five new females fancy guppies and a gaudy male along with a couple of dwarf clawed frogs that are waiting for some portraits. I was feeding the tiny frogs yesterday and they are bottomless pits and stare at me till I feed them. They look up at me with their tiny eyes. I will throw a bit of food to them when I get to school later. I recall a paper I had been working on that frustrated me and yet was very interesting; how did the denominalization in the antebellum period in the history of the United States effect higher education? After writing about faith and religion yesterday this thought came back. I had been pouring through books for nearly a week and knew what I wanted to say but it was a research paper and I had to site and use others views not my own.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” First amendment to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson

Several weeks back a student was using this amendment to justify prayer in school which for me is a violation, as is so many of the efforts to teach Christianity or any religion in public school. Yesterday in a blog discussion various views on afterlife and or no afterlife went in numerous directions and even a challenge as to George Washington’s faith that I had mentioned in a previous writing. As I read and thought back in the day actually the first six presidents were college graduates then a trend towards doers starting with Andrew Jackson. As higher education progressed in the United States there was a period just prior to the Civil war where churches were splitting and forming new denominations literally daily and in doing so to justify existence formed colleges for educating clergy and their members.
This is not a history lesson but as I read and looked through the hell blog it really became apparent how many different believers and in how many different things they believe. All going back to our First amendment we can believe what we want. What is so interesting is when believe is based on traditions and innuendos and less on fact not to push science versus faith but not that long ago people were burned at the stake for saying the world is round and not flat as advocated by the church. I wonder sometimes and well it has been said that ignorance is bliss and maybe that is why people are happy. A very scary thought in the news a few years back. A powerful representative is stepping down for improprieties and is publicly saying he will be more powerful out of the house than in that is a scary thought in other words he will be doing what he is being punished for, lobbying votes for various entities. Interesting one of his friends has just been found guilty of various illegal issues dealing with lobbying and we still elect these guys.
It is so amazing how we do find these people electable. It started back in 1820’s or so when intelligent people were not as important as what you could do for me became the trend. A major effort of Jackson’s was displacing eastern Native Americans to Oklahoma and giving their lands to his friends is it not wonderful how this system works. But quickly back to faith and belief is it not a personal thing something in your heart and soul if you consider that an entity.

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you posses. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.” Kent Nerburn

As I close I thought of something this morning reading a note from a single mother. Children who are from broken homes, we always tend to think divorce equals a broken home but in reality a broken home is one “needin fixin” that could be many reasons other than divorce and can often be kids with both parents. Sometimes I wish Elmer’s glue made an adhesive for broken homes a simple fix for a complex problem so as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

So many are confused by religion

Bird Droppings February 20, 2011
So many are confused by religion

But as I sit here today thinking and wondering about all that is I am recalling last night involved in a blog discussion on religion which was interesting. There are so many views and ideas many intellectualized and quantified and stratified. It seems everyone has their own view which in and of its self is good. The concept of faith is an individual thing. It has been some time since I walked several miles each morning with a good friend who at the time was in seminary discussing his views my views and classes he was taking in seminary at that time. There is a push in Georgia to include the Old and New Testament in public schools as a high school class and actually already a very structured guideline had been generated.
But how many teachers could teach it purely as literature, as a book, and not delve into faith and belief that will be the deciding factor. It would take an unbiased teacher to teach this course of study so as to not become a religion class and that is a difficult road. But then again why not offer the Qumran, Rig Vedas, and other considered holy texts in a similar course. Odds are great those will never come up in Georgia’s legislator.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.” The Definition of freedom of religion as per The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the 58 Member States of the United Nations General Assembly

Yet we persist in missionary work and trying to convert others. Not only here in the United States, but it seems almost biological that humans as a species want everyone to believe the same things. It must be engrained in our DNA which some believers would denies exists at all anyhow. So I went out in my back yard and sat meditating and thinking about the day ahead and seeing all the beginnings of leaves and dogwood flowers. My dog seems to like just sniffing along the porch might be chipmunks or voles again. I thought about our founding fathers many of whom contrary to popular believe were humanists and or deists.

“One of the embarrassing problems for the nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was the fact that NOT ONE of the first six presidents of the United States was a Christian. They were Deists.” THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, 1968, vol.2, p.420,

This is no attempt to dissuade thinking but in a time when religion is influencing our national direction more so than in many previous periods and often at the sake of science and of humanity as a whole and more often than not for profit and power. Cuts to the federal and even state budgets are not items to benefit the people but industry and profits. Amazing as we are using religion as the manipulative tool to pull it all together even preaching from local pulpits that global warming is a hoax. We need to look beyond the religiosity presented to where does this put us in ten years or twenty. We are increasing pollution and destroying wilderness more so than in any era of modern history and allowing companies to pollute more and big businesses to reap profits beyond wall streets expectations all at the expense of the majority of people.
I am not arguing religion it is a powerful tool for good as well but in the wrong hands and with the wrong motivations a weapon of destruction. As we sit posed to expand our wars one of the few things not cut in our budget arguments. Most people are not even aware I am sure corporate gurus at major industries world wide are chomping at the bit more cash flow from defense contracts, feeding troops (privatized), purifying water, selling gasoline to armies and providing reconstruction in a war zone price (Army auditors found a three hundred million dollar error based on a company having done nothing in terms of construction and already being paid). Peace is cheaper or maybe not good business.

“Every footstep is the journey. Every sight, every sound, every touch and taste and smell with which we are blessed is the journey. All of the colors before us are the journey, and we are the journey. May we always keep our feet on Mother Earth, our eyes and minds above the treetops, our spirit with the Greater Universal Spirit. And may we always walk the path of Good Medicine in harmony and balance, with a sense of humility, kindness, wonder, and respect for all living things as we follow the sacred trail of those who have come before us and those yet to come.” Dr. Michael Tlanusta Garrett, Walking on the Wind, 1998, is from the Eastern Band of Cherokee, he grew up on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in the mountains of western North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in counselor education and a M.Ed. in counseling and development.

Each day I wonder can we overcome all that ails our world and I ask each of you to please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Thinking about other times

Bird Droppings February 18, 2011
Thinking about other times

“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song, and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.” Geronimo, Goyathlay (“one who yawns”)

As I went out this morning just a few minutes ago taking our dog out to a silent world, the air was still and the ambient temperature just cold enough to keep frogs in hibernation. Later in the morning I will be running to the store for milk so my offspring can have breakfast. Yesterday evening I passed by several opossums that had been killed during the night along the road my oldest son and I were talking about this a few days ago as it seems the warm weather is bringing animals out and roads are busier.
A few days ago I mentioned going to Fort Sill to see Geronimo’s grave which is set back in along a quiet bend in a small river with aspen trees all about. It is actually a very peaceful spot. The song mentioned above is a medicine song one he would sing at opportune times or simply as a prayer. As he grew older Geronimo became a Christian as he would say just in case.

“I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.” Geronimo

An old man approached his new religion in that he felt this was a good example for living. Stories go that he never gave up his old ways as well singing his medicine songs and participating in rituals till he died. He died at eighty years of age at Fort Sill Oklahoma many miles from his beloved Arizona and New Mexico mountains. I wonder as I think so often how we say one thing and live or do another. As I was reading about Geronimo this morning and thinking a comment in his biography dictated when he was older at Fort Sill. He spoke of how his people the Apaches would vow to never do harm to each other of any kind and this was a bond of trust.
Here on a Saturday morning I am catching up on emails and reading blogs and I find the paradoxes interesting. On one hand speaking of their religion and faith and how steadfast and yet on the other hand a near opposite as you read from the same pen or computer near slanderous remarks about others and life in general. Such a paradox we humans provide. As I thought this morning even the soldiers knew if Geronimo gave his word it was done nothing would change even though the US government changed, his word was bond. He was one of the most feared warriors of all time in the American west and soldiers knew they could trust him. There were no exceptions to him; if he said he was going peaceful he was going peaceful.
Chief Joseph as he surrendered told his people he would fight no more and he stopped which became a bond that lasted till his death even though treaties with the Nez Perce were broken numerous times. I guess where I am going is we live in such paradox of saying one thing and living another of claiming righteousness, and really wanting only to party, of saying we believe on a Sunday and taking a break Monday through Saturday. Recent news in Afghanistan of a Christian convert who was condemned to death for converting by their law. Our righteous nations intervened and he was released as a mental patient who could not be tried. Clerics through out the country wanted him stoned and or pulled apart basically dead and we are fighting in that country for freedom. Who can be free with that type of laws and beliefs but from another side of the coin who are we to impose our beliefs on them.
All through history western civilizations have tried to impose their morals and civilization on primitives and any one who disagreed. In Brazil it is now against federal law to interfere with primitives and when tribes are found that are still in the wilds of the Amazon. Boundaries are made and traffic is not permitted through that area. If you read jungle signs the various broken branches feathers skulls and such also indicate “Not Welcome.” We are pressuring countries daily in our quest for world peace using threats to garner peace there has got to be logic there.
However one thing is lacking from the days of the Wild West and a handshake with Geronimo being his bond. There is no longer anyone to trust and six thousand page peace agreements are now broken the second oil or minerals are found and what was a peace agreement now has exceptions and or we lease from them. Trust is a powerful word and one that has lost meaning in our society. We know our politicians are crooks and we continue to reelect them beneath new banners of I will not be a crook this time I promise again.
Watching American Idol and sorry I do I recall a line from last year a profound statement from another broadcasting company’s comic relieve.

“35,000,000 votes were cast in two hours last night which really shows us the power of democracy I wonder how many would have text or called if it was a vote on Medicare or immigration”

We do have the power of the vote and yet American idol draws nearly thirty percent of the national vote in comparison to the last elections. A TV show in two hours received thirty percent of the possible vote talk about paradox and I did not even vote on American Idol last year. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Blue sky and warm weather

Bird Droppings February 18, 2011
Blue sky and warm weather

It has been a long winter here in Georgia, I had to wear a jacket several times and we had snow on the ground more than twice. Actually had school closed for a week which is unheard of. Many mornings in the bitter cold I would have to wrap up in a blanket to go out side for my morning meditations and dog walks. Our snowfall was enough to scrape together a snow ball on several occasions. Scrapping snow and ice off windshields I almost froze my hands off after clearing three cars. Thought I was going to stick to the metal there once or twice.
As I start each morning wondering about where and when and why I was sitting here thinking when I opened up my email and it was one of my regulars that had emailed me last night. She has for several days not said a word during the day and just come in and wrap in a blanket and fall asleep on the sofa in my room before school starts and at lunch time. She says she has been tired every day. The email was to inform me she was moving back with her mom and a life of back and forth and live with mom live with dad and step mom and live here and there. We seem to make kids disposable or when we need them. Here you take them I want some freedom and or this or that and then we wonder why kids have issues.
Just on a week break another one left school for other reasons and another is in trouble with the law and I hear mom doesn’t know what to do with him. In trouble at school picked up by police mom does not know what to do I hear this daily. Yesterday an email went around about a teacher from Virginia who writes for CBS news periodically that was addressing the issue of who is to blame for educational failures. The email was addressing student motivation as the issue. Teachers are to be motivators, content delivery systems and disciplinarians all rolled into one and be friends with kids although I was talking with a teacher who declines to be friends. But this teacher is defining friends as someone who I would go out with after work for a drink with.
I started wondering how I defined friendship since I do not drink and seldom go out with people I tend to be monastic after school. I would have to address how I define friendship in my own terms.

“The most called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear.” Maya Angelou

A crucial aspect of friendship is listening it is so significant to just being there to listen and not comment about yourself.

“Your friends will know you better in the first minute they meet you than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.” Richard Bach

So often friends are there and for me I use the word friends quite loosely. I consider many people friends even though I do not socialize with them. In order for trust to be on a level of significance friendship is a prerequisite. For students to trust a teacher to a point of totally honesty and with many kids I work with, honesty is a serious issue. You have to have trust and respect and being a friend to kids is integral for that to get accomplished and to help kids succeed.
But as I thought about that motivation concept as well a key point. For many years I have wondered why some kids are learners and others just want to pass and nothing more. We have parents who get upset when kids are challenged often times. I keep wondering if it is our technology some of use it daily for everything to enhance and to go beyond but many use technology simply as a means to make things easier. Georgia passed legislation where in graduation test rooms all electronic devices have to be turned in before testing so no cheating can occur.
But as I think technology has altered the arena as some students use prewritten papers from online and copy and paste to create papers and never site sources claiming originality. I recall a student attempted to turn in a essay to me on a subject they were researching and actually went in and misspelled words to make it look like he had written it. So as I read over his paper I asked what does disenfranchise mean and he said what word is where and how. I said you have it in your essay. I was curious I never heard you use that word. I see several misspelled words and no commas and periods but what does that word mean and I got a round about answer nowhere near being even close. Eventually he started rewriting and actually did the assignment. Sadly he quit school soon after and one day he did get a decent job working for a local municipality.
So why do we choose to want the easy way and why do we teachers often choose to not motivate? On a state and federal level performance is measured not n motivation but answers on tests. It is content knowledge which is memorize the night before kind of stuff. It is easy to cram, teach how to take a test, and its done. The hard part is context, making sense of all we learn and so many students really do not want to do this. Seldom do we even test or measure for this critical aspect, shy of an occasional lab or project. What many teachers forget is that context does give meaning and ownership to information and greatly improves retention. Also you know what, it applies to friendship as well.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.. It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival” C.S. Lewis

I read this statement from the great writer and theologian and it hit me like a stone thrown at a mirror. It is about as paradoxical as it goes. Using education again as a foil content is that survival aspect and friendship, art and philosophy are the context, the value added aspect and these things make life meaningful much more so than just surviving.

“Friendship needs no words…” Dag Hammarskjöld

Perhaps I like this quote the best and perhaps it means the most as I wonder and ponder this morning. The former General Secretary of the United Nations defines friendship by not defining it. Friendship does not need definition or explanation it just is and you know it when it is. Let us seek peace in our daily walk and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

We are where we need to be

Bird Droppings February 17, 2011
We are where we need to be
I was outside for nearly thirty minutes sitting in the dark watching some smoke waft off of some sage as tree frogs for the first time broke the silence. The ambient temperature must be right I heard them last night as well. There are no crickets as of yet only the chorus frogs chirping away. I have said many times I am where I need to be now as I reference my teaching at the high school. The people I come in contact with and talk with for each of us it is part of the great mystery of life we share. Perhaps it is seeing the ads for James Redfield’s latest book that got me wandering this morning but for years I have discussed my world view as one of intertwining of the pieces.
“We are discovering again that we live in a deeply mysterious world,
full of sudden coincidences and synchronistic encounters that seem destined.” James Redfield
I was approached about the idea of fate and offered that there are unquestionably interactions going on that seem to lead in a direction. I have used many times the concept of a puzzle, of the pieces falling into place. In life these pieces are very intricate and complex yet when we stand back we can see the interlocking and interconnection not the whole. I often wonder at my own life’s journeys and how I ended up where I am. I am where I need to be right at this moment to interact with people I come into contact with here now and tomorrow is another day and another piece to the puzzle.
“A new spiritual awakening is occurring in human culture, an awakening brought about by a critical mass of individuals who experience their lives as a spiritual unfolding, a journey in which we are led forward by mysterious coincidences.” James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy, insight one
When I first read James Redfield’s book I was amazed at how it seemed to fit many things going on within myself, was that a great marketing ploy or a reality I am still not sure. Even to the extent I was told about the book by a consultant who came to work with my company for two days and review business plans etc. Basically he told me to close up and move on which I did shortly there after. But he also was married to a girl from Peru and was in process of moving to Peru to start an import export company. He mentioned I should read a book coincidently; The Celestine Prophecy takes place in Peru. I wrote the name of the book on a sheet of paper and stuck in my wallet for a Borders or Barnes and Noble trip when ever that may come. Several months later walking in Borders, guess what book fell off the shelf and hit me in the head.
“This awakening represents the creation of a new, more complete worldview, which replaces a five-hundred-year-old preoccupation with secular survival and comfort. While this technological preoccupation was an important step; our awakening to life’s coincidences is opening us up to the real purpose of human life on this planet, and the real nature of our universe.” James Redfield, Insight two
It was in the early 1900’s Dr. Carl Jung came up with the word synchronicity which relates to and ties into Redfield’s book. Jung found this concept as he interviewed patients and retraced these interrelated meaningful happenings these puzzle pieces falling in place. Quantum Physics is addressing many of the ideas in science that Redfield mentions in fiction the ideas of energy and a bond we all have to this flow of energy.
“We now experience that we live not in a material universe, but in a universe of dynamic energy. Everything extant is a field of sacred energy that we can sense and intuit. Moreover, we humans can project our energy by focusing our attention in the desired direction…where attention goes, energy flows…influencing other energy systems and increasing the pace of coincidences in our lives.” James Redfield, Insight three
Yesterday as I read a science article on how a double helix shaped mass of space dust was found near the center of our galaxy I recalled several passages from Redfield and Gary Zukov’s writings. This cloud had the form of what appeared to be DNA. The massive magnetic forces of the black hole at the center of the galaxy appear to be what has created this cloud in this shape. As I read it became apparent how literally insignificant we are in the total scheme of things floundering about trying to understand literally infinite understanding with a finite mind. Many times I look for reality in my place of existence and today a short poem by a young man at the time of writing he was eight years old.
By Mattie J.T. Stepanek

I really miss
Having a brother
I miss my
Two brothers and my sister
And I don’t
Why they died
It’s so sad
To not have
A brother, and
Another brother, and
A sister
When I should have them.
And I know that
Will make me
Happy again
But right now,
I don’t know what, and
I don’t know when

Mattie Stepanek died at thirteen from a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, along with his brothers and sister. He was able to share though briefly his heart felt understanding of life and all around him. As I looked through one of his poetry books “Hope through Heartsongs,” I was caught up in his words but also a forward by Gary Zukav author of numerous bestsellers.

“Chapters begin and end, but the book continues. Five sensory humans mistake their lives for the book. A multisensory human sees his life as a chapter in the book. He sees the lives of others in the same way. A multisensory human does not think of herself as beginning with her birth and ending with her death and more than she thinks a book ends when one of its chapters comes to a conclusion. The unfolding history of the book becomes more visible in each chapter – in each life.” Gary Zukav, Foreword to Hope through Heart songs by Mattie Stepanak

As I plan my day today the moon was setting through the clouds even if I can not see it clearly I know from days past this week and the sun is rising across the other side of my existence. On one side in black and white with clouds framing a nearly full moon and on the other brilliant purples and reds as the sun is rising through many of the same numerous clouds. We exist much in this same manner seeing brilliance in black and white at times in settings conclusions and in beginnings with all their brilliant colors. Each day our pieces fall in to place one at a time each integral to the next each a page as Zukav views as a book each a piece of the puzzle. I wonder where today will lead and where the pieces will fall as I finish my morning writing I would ask as I do each day for peace and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.